'Blues Country'

(Berger Platters)


MARK: 95/100


More than 55 minutes divided in 14 songs are what is presented by Ted's and Al Hemberger's band, the so-called Berger Brothers (the former on drums, the latter on bass & vocals), having made a name for themselves recording and playing throughout the Northeast. They own and operate The Loft Recording Studios in Bronxville, NYC, and hosted a bunch of US popstars. The line-up is completed by Bob Mayo, keyboards, guitar & vocals, who has toured and recorded with Aerosmith, Foreigner, Robert Plan and the likes, while the sound is rounded out by the meaty prowess of 6-string/vocalist Bob Rasero, former sidekick to the legendary Coco, and enriched by guest trombonist Greg Mayo.

As for the music, the start is given by the title-track, a passionate and cheerful song gifted with fantastic lines and refrain; Renovators must be sure they have lots of big shots in their hands, because not all bands would 'waste' their top track in the beginning, and they are fucking right!
The radio-friendly "Drinkin' You off My Mind" is gonna be the companion for a lot of nostalgic winos who're gonna mirror themselves in the lyrics, and gonna feel a bit better (ain't it true that 'fellowship in woe doth woe assuage'?), while I believe no song here included sounds more Star-Spangled-oriented than "That Lonesome Whistle Sound", preceding my favorite "Between the Lines", displaying a superb refrain, simple but efficacious, contending the summit of my personal list along with "You Must Be over Me 'Cause Now You're under Him", a rather 60's-flavored composition.

The Renovators go on to the end by alternating more rhythmed/fast songs with tranquil, melodic, yet never boring ones (like "She Took the Wrong Way Home", reminding me of the best Dakota, not only on the grounds of the voice style, but the structure of the song and use of the keyboards as well) with a cronometric precision. Both the 2 versions here featured of "Dancin' with Lorraine" seem stolen from Toto's magic songwriting book, rightly followed by the romantic "A Man of Her Own" and "The Deepest Blue", fully built on a pleasant melodic arpeggio.

The only track in which perfection is skimmed, tho' of only a millimeter, is "The Heart Knows What's Real"; it can be improved even more, as to my mind. However, don't worry at all, since "The Girls Are Out" shall make you pound your feet on the floor while sipping a fresh beer in coziness, and in less than a minute it shall catapult you into a smoky venue lost in the desert, where the clock seems to have stopped 40 years ago. The melancholy in "No Better Place To Be (River Song)" is wiped out sson afterwards by the closer "Ten Gallon Heart", a potential country rock hit (one of the many here present suitable for a videoclip) with a crescendo final making room for the keyboards so as to take their fill.

"Blues Country" owns all that a satisfactory professional album requires from every angle: feeling, ability of reuniting tradition and modernity with experienced good taste, skillful songwriting, a most high-quality detailed recording, mixing and mastering, and the variety allowed by having 3 different vocalists rendering their songs complete depending on the needs. This record reconciles a lion-hearted rocker like me and my sweet girlfriend, as far from rock as the white-clothed puppet is from George W. Bush. And if you add that - if I'm not mistaken - the packaging is made with recycled paper, then you don't have any excuses. Damned well spent money, cowboy!



With These Hands (96, outa print)
In Real Time (97)
Sheetrock the House (98, outta print)
Rhthm and Blueprints (2000)
Live at Pete's 1991 (2001)
Blues Country (2002)